March 13, 2014 at 10:31 am #132074
The life of a conservator is full of surprises.
I have been asked to conserve a 6 in. diameter piece of human skin which is about to be surgically removed from the artist’s body. The artist’s intent is to wait until the skin has dried and shrunk so that he can mount it on a medallion.
As a conservator I will have to work alongside the skin surgeon and take over from him after the surgery has been completed. I would need to monitor the piece of skin during curing and prevent damage which would cause the loss of the skin.
This is a hit or miss kind of situation, hence thorough research is extremely important to the success of this “once in the artist’s lifetime” project.
I would appreciate comments and suggestions on how to assist the artist with this request.
March 13, 2014 at 10:42 am #132083Ella RayburnMember
How about talking to a taxidermist? Maybe a pathologist?
March 13, 2014 at 10:56 am #132082
Those are good starting points and I have been trying to locate the right ones to discuss the project with.
In the meanwhile I was wondering if anyone had ever come across similar issues.
March 13, 2014 at 11:38 am #132081Barbara AppelbaumMember
There are different ways to stabilize skin that have different results. One is tanning ( like shoe leather). Another leaves you with parchment, and the third results in something American Indians wear (raw-hide or buckskin). Given that the client is an artist, he probably has a picture in his mind of what he expects it to look like, so you need to discuss the options even before you talk to taxidermist or go on line for instructions. On the other hand, you may find that one method or another is easier to do – and less stinky.
March 13, 2014 at 11:52 am #132080
I will contact the artist and ask him to decide what the final product should look like. The discussion is still relatively new.
March 14, 2014 at 8:49 am #132079Elspeth JordanMember
You may what to look in to the work of Donald Rodney who has made art from his own skin. The National Museum Wales owns the piece shown in this photograph. It’s a bit of a conservation nightmare. They might be able to tell you how the artist preserved the skin.
March 14, 2014 at 8:52 am #132078Elspeth JordanMember
I’m sorry, I can’t seem to attach the link. If you search ‘In The House of My Father’ on the Tate website you can see the image in question and read about the work.
March 14, 2014 at 9:03 am #132077
Thanks Elspeth. This is most useful.
I did received a link to the Tate website with your message that also reached me by email. I will contact my colleagues at Tate for additional info.
March 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm #132076Jacquelyn WilsonMember
If the surgery is being done in a hospital, you may want to check with the hospital’s administration. They may not allow you to removed to excised skin, as this is considered a bio-hazardous material.
March 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm #132075
I do plan on asking the relevant parties involved about procedures and permissions.
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